Saturday, December 26, 2009

Away for a Week

Saturday morning Judy and I, along with Alanna, the Thompsons and the Kerrs, will be leaving for Madang, on the north coast of PNG for about a week of vacation. I may post if I get an internet connection, but if you don't hear from us for a while, that's why. We'll be back with lots of great photos, I'm sure!

Christmas Day

The celebration just goes on and on!

This morning we took things kind of slowly. After coffee, I went to the hospital for brief rounds, then returned for a breakfast of fruit, eggs and pastry. Really. That's what it was. After dinner last evening, none of us felt like eating the light fruit/egg/pastry treat that Judy and Alanna had prepared, so we saved it for breakfast this morning.

After breakfast, we opened our gifts together. There's new music on the stereo, and new toys to be played with! There are beautiful hand-made items to beautify our home and our hearts. We relaxed, enjoyed our gifts and each others' company. And drank coffee. Lots of good coffee. Well, Alanna drank tea. We didn't adopt her early enough in life to teach her to drink coffee properly! He parents failed in this.

In the afternoon we went to the McCoys for another dinner, this time Mexican; enchiladas and tacos. Marsha makes the best salsa, with garden-fresh cilantro. Dessert was brownies with the choice of vanilla or candy-cane ice cream (I had both) and home-made hot fudge. (For those of you on Facebook, see Steph Doenges' recent posts about the candy-cane ice cream.) This was followed by a lively game of charades, which our team dominated, despite the dirty tricks of the other guys.

1. About to head to the hospital for Christmas morning rounds
2. Back home eating fruit, eggs and pastry for breakfast
3. Bill and Marsha, good friends and gracious hosts. Marsha is a marvelous cook, and Bill is a master gardener. Between what Bill grows and the way Marsha cooks it, there's always great food at their house. They are both great story tellers, which keeps things lively.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve at Kudjip

Christmas eve is a work day at Nazarene Hospital. It was a slow day, but I was on call, along with medical student Olivia Huang. We managed to finish up with some patients in the emergency room just in time to join the missionary family for the traditional annual Christmas caroling on the wards. We sang, prayed and gave a gift to each patient, tailored to their age and gender.

In the evening, we had our main family Christmas dinner. Guests were Olivia, Germaine Toh (also a medical student), Dr. Becky Wallace, and of course, Alanna Watton, who is staying with us. Yes, it was me and five beautiful women. We had a great time together, sharing a great meal and great fellowship. After dinner we were joined by Dr. Erin Meier for a showing of It's a Wonderful Life.

When you put a lot of photos on a blog without very much text, it gets kind of jumbled. Please forgive the lack of artistic layout!

1. Singing on the ward
2. Dr. Becky with a little friend
3. Judy shaking hands and giving out presents
4. Trumpets one last time for this season
5. Becky, Olivia, Germaine, Alanna, Judy
6. You figure it out!
7. Watching the movie

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Eve Party

An "old" tradition here at Kudjip (well, maybe going back 6 or 7 years) is a party on the eve of Christmas Eve, December 23. It's the idea of the Myers, who host it each year. This event features more treats than you can imagine, silly games, warm fellowship. Good fun.

1. Aden and Scot Riggins, Jim Radcliffe, Wayne and Pat Cummings (Susan Myers' parents).

2. Steph Donges, Grace, Anna and Rosie Kerr.

3. Olivia Huang and Olivia Toh, both from Singapore, and both medical students in Australia.

4. Wiley and Aden Riggins, Anna and Grace Kerr.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Ward Evangelism

Yesterday morning we did a living nativity on each of the wards. Lots of photos and the whole story are here. As yesterday, click on the small photos in order to see bigger photos and captions.

Wild Party!

Saturday evening we had our annual missionary Christmas party. You can see an album of photos by clicking on this link. The captions tell the story.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


One of the things that all of us (speaking for the doctors) enjoy is teaching. We have a fairly steady stream of medical students and residents (usually Family Practice) from abroad who come here for elective rotations.

We are also involved in a training program for Papua New Guinean doctors that is very similar to a Family Practice residency in the US, but uniquely adapted to the needs of PNG. It's called a Master of Medicine (Rural Health). This program caters to people who have already displayed a willingness to practice in the under-served parts of PNG. Most of the training is occurs at the Christian hospitals. At the moment these people (called registrars) come here for surgical rotations. So far (we've had 3 of the registrars) they are excellent in skill, knowledge, attitude and commitment.

When doctors in PNG first graduate from their basic medical training, they serve for 2 years in what here is called residency. It is most similar to a rotating internship in the US, but lasts for 2 years. As part of their second year, they are required to do a 3-month rural "attachment" (we'd call it a rotation in the US). We have hosted several of these residents. Currently Dr. Penge Oko is with us, now about a month into his attachment. This is the last attachment of his residency, so when he is done here he will be registered to practice, and can apply for jobs at any of the rural hospitals in PNG. Doctors are required to work for two years in a rural area before they can apply to any of the Master of Medicine programs (specialty training).

One nice thing about Penge is that he's from the local area, so his first language is the first language of most of our patients. He doesn't need a translator even with the old folks who don't speak Pidgin. He's doing very well. He shows an openness about learning, and a willing to ask questions and ask for help that is making it fun to teach him.

In the photo Dr. Penge is treating a patient along with Dr. Susan Myers.

The Boys and Bob

So last week after church we were visiting with our friends Aden and Wiley, and ended up inviting them over to the house for a little while. The big attraction at our house was that the new Chief of Storeroom Rodent Security was visiting us for the weekend. The storeroom was new to him, and he likes to be around people, so Judy thought that it was a shame to make him stay on the job the whole weekend.

One problem was that the new CSRS didn't yet have a name. So Aden and Wiley came over and visited with him for a while. Aden asked about his name, and Judy explained that he didn't have one yet, and perhaps he could suggest a suitable one. He immediately suggested "Bob." So Bob it is. Bob, CSRS.

Bob is now fairly comfortable in the storeroom. He has learned to use the facilities properly, and is quite happy sleeping among dusty boxes. And the word is starting to spread in the rodent community that their days of unlimited free run of the storeroom are limited. It may be a few weeks until he's ready to take out the biggest ones, though.

After the visit we walked Aden and Wiley home, visited with their parents and brother Noah a little bit, and sang the Kudjip Station Birthday Medley to their mom, Jill.

In the photo Jill is with Erin Meier. You can read more about Aden, Wiley and their brother Noah here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Worship at Tumba

This morning we walked to Tumba, about an hour south of the station, to worship with the church there. With us were Alanna Watton, Germaine Toh, and Rachel and Jordan Thompson. I've posted an album of photos along with fairly detailed captions on Facebook. You don't need to be a member of Facebook to see the photos--just click this link.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Cookies--Cammi's Corrections and Recollections

When you see this, read to post below first, then this.

I just got this from my sister, Cammi:
Actually, this came from her hand written cookbook and was the first recipe under "Cookies"... The covers of the book are wooden and it's tied together with a shoe lace... touching it and reading it makes me feel like I'm in her little kitchen with the wood stove and the old table with the oilcloth covering it. We'd bake the cookies with her. She was the baker and we were the helpers with aprons on, of course... I don't remember just what our jobs were, but I do remember cutting the cookies out with a tin can, cut out at both ends. She may have had a real cookie cutter, too. Round, of course. She didn't frost hers. Just sprinkled them generously with lots of sugar... there was always a dusting of flour left on the bottoms... just enough.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Grandma Bennett's Sugar Cookies

We made some cookies today, using my grandma Bennett's recipe. We usually make some at Christmas time, although I don't think that they were particularly Christmas cookies to Grandma. Making sugar cookies with Grandma is a strong, favorite memory for my brother and sister. The times I remember with her were when she was less active.

Vena Duvall Bennett was physically a tiny lady, less than 5 feet tall, and I'd guess 90 pounds. She was raised by a somewhat unstable, stern, bipolar atheist. It would seem (from her own accounts of her childhood) that she had ADHD. She had a hard time in school because she couldn't sit still or keep quiet. One abusive school teacher beat her so regularly that at one point her older sister stepped in and physically defended her. This (the ADHD) explains a great deal about the family!

She was courted by a tall, lanky, funny, young man named Grover Bennett. He had an artistic bent, and became skilled at oil painting and photography. He had been raised, along with 4 brothers, in a single-parent home after his father died in a farming accident when he was a small child. They were nominally Christian, but not committed or active in church. After marriage, Grover and Vena moved to the state of Washington and staked a claim to the first of two homesteads near Colville, neither of which they were ever able to "prove up." Grover usually had to work elsewhere; the orchards of the Yakima valley, or the logging camps in the Cascades. She stayed back to care for the children that were starting to accumulate. My dad was number 4, born in one of those homestead cabins.

It was in one of the homesteads where she was surprised by a visit home by Grover. He walked in the door, and his first words were, "Ma, I got religion, and you should get it, too." She only hesitated a moment to make her decision, and replied, "alright." They knelt together on the dirt floor as she prayed a simple prayer giving her heart and life to Jesus. Her theology gained a little sophistication through the years, but her faith remained simple.

From the failed homesteads, she and Grover moved to a farm in Iowa, where more babies came along, 8 in total. Farming was tough, even with the free labor provided by a large family. At the height of the Great Depression they had to give up the farm. They joined the Dust Bowl exodus from the midwest, and moved to Yakima, Washington, where an able-bodied worker could earn the princely sum of $1 a day in the fruit orchards. Through the subsequent years, Vena followed Grover to a long series of jobs and businesses. None of these businesses were "successful" by the usual standards of success, but those of us who knew Vena and Grover, and who have known their children think they were very successful.

Neither Vena nor Grover had much formal schooling. I think Grover may have completed 6th grade; Vena completed 8th. But don't think that she was uneducated. She was a true life-long learner, reading, paying attention to sermons at church or on the radio, and usually taking careful notes. She kept binders that she filled with her notes, or with clippings from newspapers or magazines on a wide range of topics. Some of these were dedicated to humor. She'd save cartoons or jokes to later share with her grandchildren. Some were dedicated to recipes. Somewhere along the way, she wrote down her favorite sugar cookie recipe, the one she used when her grandchildren would come to her house. A testimony to her vocabulary and intelligence is that her last act in this life was to beat two of her daughters at Scrabble. She won the game, then laid back on her bed and died.

She and Grover inspired their children with a love of learning. The children went much further than their parents in terms of formal schooling. Most of their kids had at least some college. I think 4 finished. At least 3 had some graduate school, with 2 completing advanced degrees, one multiple degrees in multiple disciplines, including a doctorate. Most of the grandchildren went to college, and many went on to advanced degrees.

There wasn't a huge inheritance for her children, in terms of material things. Most of the children were surprised to learn that she still had a little savings which was divided among them. My parents used this money for the down payment on a little house that would later become their retirement home. Grandma had thought about every one of her children and grand children, and marked some keepsake for each one. For me it was one of Grandpa's paintings. For my sister it was a binder of recipes.

In the late 1970s my brother Gaymon commented to my sister Cammi that it was a shame that no one knew how to make the soft sugar cookies that they remembered Grandma making. She agreed that it was sad. Some time later, Cammi was thumbing through that old, worn binder with it's clippings and hand-written entries, when a scrap of paper fell out. When she looked at it she recognized Grandma's handwriting. At the top of the paper was the heading: "Sugar Cookies". With excitement and anticipation, she quickly went to the kitchen, and followed the instructions. What emerged from the oven a few minutes later evoked a flood memories; memories of standing on a stool at the counter next to Grandma, memories of joy and laughter, memories of knowing that she was loved.

At the family Christmas gift exchange that year, Gaymon opened his package from Cammi. On top was a decoupaged plaque of a recipe. Underneath were a couple dozen of the sweet, tender cookies that he remembered from childhood, round, sprinkled with sugar. Now every year in our homes, and in the homes of many of our cousins, we partake of the cookies, and of memories of our wonderful little Grandma B. Now you can, too.

Grandma Bennett's Sugar Cookies

1 egg
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. milk
3 c. flour
4 t. baking powder

Mix the egg, sugar and butter, then add the remaining ingredients. Roll out on a flowered board, and for truly authentic cookies, cut with the top of a drinking glass. Leave these cookies a little thicker than you would for more traditional cookies. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with a little sugar, and bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until just golden at the edges. They should be soft, not crisp. You can, of course, cut them into any shape you like, and top with colored sugars, sprinkles, icing or any combination that strikes your creative fancy. Eat them and think of a little lady who loved Jesus, loved her family and loved learning.

1. Grandma in the early '50s either about the time I was born, or when I was very small.
2. Grandpa with what I'm quite sure must have been his favorite grandchild.

Up on the Roof

For some photos taken from our roof, go to this link.

New Faces

This past week we were joined by three delightful young ladies. Germaine Toh and Olivia Huang are both from Singapore, and are medical students in Australia. They are here for the next month for an elective rotation.

Alanna Watton is an "old friend". I think she was 13 when we first knew her. Her family has served in Nigeria and Ghana as missionaries. We were in pre-field training with her parents way back in '02. She's been back in Canada for a couple of years now. She's been planning a big adventure trip for some time. She has already been in New Zealand for 2 months, she'll be with us for 3 months, and then in Australia for a couple more months. While here she is volunteering in a number of capacities.

The first photo shows Olivia, Germaine and Alanna, in order.
The second shows Olivia in peds ward with a patient named Sabbath, and one of our nursing students.

Friday, December 11, 2009

God's Appointments

A mission trip to Papua New Guinea sounded like a good idea to 4 men from a Baptist church in Adelaide, Australia. Going by boat sounded like an even better idea. They hoped to visit and minister in an area of the coast where one of the men had lived as a child. I don't know the details, but it just wasn't working out. They had to call off the boat part, but they had the time away from home planned, so they still wanted to go to PNG. They ended up in Mount Hagen, at the headquarters of Mission Aviation Fellowship.

A couple of them visited Kudjip this past Sunday, and Judy and I met them. Judy found out that they were all musicians, hoping to find opportunities to minister through music. She realized what a great thing it would be for our patients if they would come and sing on the wards. So this morning she drove into Mount Hagen and picked them up, along with a young man from Ontaria, Canada who has been volunteering at MAF. They had lunch at out house, then went to the hospital and sang on each ward and in the waiting porch of OPD.

Late in the afternoon, but before they left we got word that there was some trouble along the road back to Hagen that made it unwise for them to go back today. So we got to have them again for supper. Then they came with us to missionary prayer meeting, and led us in some singing of worship choruses. Then it was back to our house for fellowship over cups of tea and coffee before they bedded down in one of the vacant houses. We had a great time with Les, Nathan, Sam, Jonathan and Aaron. They were a great blessing to the patients and families at the hospital, to Judy and me, and all the missionaries who were at prayer meeting.

There's an old saying, "Our disappointments are often God's appointments". Isn't it interesting that so often when our plans don't work out, that God has something else prepared for us? We're sure glad that God let them to Kudjip today.

1. Aaron, MAF volunteer from Ontario, Canada, Nathan, Sam, Alanna Watton (who is staying with us, and whom I'll tell you a lot more about soon), Jonathan, and Becky Wallace, in whose home the prayer meeting was held.
2. Les, the fourth member of the team from Adelaide.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Smooth Ride

We have moved into the new hospital, but the new x-ray room is not yet in use. The new equipment will come next June or so. In the meanwhile, we are still using the old x-ray room. The problem is, that was a long way away, and there was no smooth sidewalk from the new hospital to the old. Imagine if you had a painfully broken bone, and had to try to get to the x-ray room over a bumpy, rough path. Sounds to me like it would really hurt.

Well, our maintenance guys just finished building a new sidewalk that links the sidewalks of the new hospital with those at the old. Now you can at least have a reasonably smooth gurney ride to get your pictures taken.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


A cute little girl pushing her brother around in a wheelchair. They were traveling around quite a bit for several days last week.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Riley Again

Riley left this afternoon, heading down to New Zealand. Last evening before he left, he had some of his Kudjip friends over for guitar playing and singing. Our house was filled with music for over 2 hours.

Riley: you'll be missed! Sorry about the confusion in Port Moresby. Hope it is all working out!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


For the past month we have enjoyed having Riley Klassen stay with us. He is from Calgary, and his parents attend Judy's home church in Lethbridge. He's volunteered in construction work, and has been valuable to have around.

His interests are not primarily medical, but he did want to observe at the hospital one day before he left, so today he went with me to peds ward and to Outpatient.

He leaves tomorrow to go to New Zealand to continue his adventures. May God bless Riley as he finds new friends in new places, and as he continues to explore life.